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Tour of California - Health Net/Presented by Maxxis
 
By Staff
Date: 2/9/2007
Tour of California - Health Net/Presented by Maxxis
 

Health Net/Presented by Maxxis - Amgen Tour of California roster
Ryder Hesjedal and Rory Sutherland co-leaders for the G.C.  Tazmanian Karl Menzies and Brit Russell Downing aim for stages. Nathan O'Neil out with injury.

The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has finalized its roster for the Amgen Tour of California, February 18-25, 2007.

“We’ve put together a squad the blends overall GC threats with a number of riders who will be in contention for stage wins nearly every day,” noted team directeur sportif Jeff Corbett.

In pursuit of the overall title, the team will be lead by former Pro Tour riders Ryder Hesjedal (Phonak) and Rory Sutherland (Rabobank). “Both of these guys have ridden at the highest level and tasted success in Europe,” Corbett said. In 2006, riding for Phonak, Hesjedal finished 4th overall at the Pro Tour Volta a Cataluña while helping teammate Santiago Botero to 2nd overall.

Sutherland won the best young rider competition en route to 3rd overall at the 2005 Tour of Denmark. “Both riders are strong climbers and time trialists,” Corbett added, the necessary combination for a high finish in stage races such as the Amgen Tour of California.

The remainder of the squad features a host of riders capable of taking out stage wins from either a bunch sprint or from break-aways. Karl Menzies in particular is showing good early season form after winning the opening stage of the UCI 2.HC Tour Down Under in Australia, then holding the leader’s jersey for three days before relinquishing the overall lead on time bonuses. He finished 2nd overall.

“Karl is just strong,” Corbett says. “Along with possessing the pop to win a sprint, he’s capable of getting over just about any climb on the Tour route.”

Brit Russell Downing also comes into the Tour showing good form, having won the Boulevard Road Race, a Tour tune-up in Southern California, on February 3.

Gritters in - O’Neill out for AToC
San Diego-area native and resident Kyle Gritters will be taking the place of Nathan O’Neill on the Amgen Tour of California Roster. O’Neill sustained a hip injury when he was hit by a motorist while training in his native Australia just days after winning his record eighth Australian National Time Trial Championship.

“We’re keeping Nathan off the Tour roster as a precaution,” Corbett said. “We want to be cautious with his injury and not risk losing him for an entire season, instead of the first few weeks. While it’s hard to lose a rider of Nathan’s quality, we’re confident that Hesjedal and Sutherland will be in the hunt for the overall title. They’re both riding well, and they both have grand tour experience.”

With Gritters, the team adds yet another threat for stage wins. A strong sprinter and solid all-around rider, Gritters has shown his worth in international stage races. He was part of the Health Net Presented by Maxxis team for the Herald Sun Tour in Australia this past October, helping Menzies to a stage win and defending his leader’s jersey for several stages.

“Kyle has been riding well in the early part of the season,” Corbett said. “He’ll be an asset for the sprints and he’s definitely a threat in breaks.”

Gritters was enthusiastic about his inclusion on the team’s Amgen Tour of California roster. “As a California native and resident, I’m excited to be able to compete in my home state tour, on such a large international stage,” he said. “I intend to make every effort to help the team to stage wins, and give Ryder and Rory the best shot at the overall title.”

The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis Roster
for the Amgen Tour of California Roster:

Russell Downing (GBr)
Kyle Gritters (USA)
Ryder Hesjedal (CAN)
Tim Johnson (USA)
Karl Menzies (TAS)
Shawn Milne (USA)
Kirk O’Bee (USA)
Rory Sutherland (AUS)

Riders to Watch
Team Captain: Tim Johnson

For the Overall Title:
Hesjedal
Sutherland

For Stage Wins:
Downing
Gritters
Menzies
Milne
O’Bee

Alternates
Roman Kilun (USA)
Jeff Louder (USA)

For additional information regarding the Team, please visit www.teamhealthnet.com

About Momentum Sports Group, LLC: The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis is in its fifth year of professional racing. The team is owned and operated by the Momentum Sports Group, LLC, based in Oakland, California.

Momentum Sports Group is dedicated to the growth and management of sports and entertainment assets worldwide. Momentum Sports Group, LLC is owned by The Gekko Group, LLC, a private equity and advisory firm which seeks to extract and maximize shareholder value, and Cycle Sports, Inc., a boutique bicycle shop located in Oakland, California, which sells high-end custom road and mountain frames, parts, accessories and equipment.
 

 
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